New Critical Wildlife Area will protect nesting birds in south Florida
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) today designated a small island in Martin County, known locally as Bird Island, as a Critical Wildlife Area (CWA). The spoil island, also identified as MC2, is an important nesting site for a variety of wading birds and one shorebird species.
For protection of these birds, the entire island, its breakwater structure and the waters immediately surrounding are closed to public access throughout the year in order to create a protective buffer. The buffer will be marked by signs and will vary from 30 to 150 feet in width.
The FWC accomplished this designation with the support of various partners including Martin County, the town of Sewall’s Point and several other stakeholder groups.
Based on the abundance and diversity of birds using the island, biologists consider Bird Island one of the top 10 waterbird colonies in south Florida. The two-acre island provides nesting habitat for at least 17 bird species, eight of which are state or federally listed as species of special concern or endangered, respectively, and roosting habitat for many more.
Bird Island is the first CWA to be established by the Commission in more than 20 years. CWAs are established by the FWC to protect important congregations of one or more species of wildlife from human disturbance during critical life stages. Human disturbance can cause wildlife to abandon high-quality habitat that is necessary for their survival. Currently, there are 18 CWAs throughout Florida, which are managed for nesting and wintering shorebirds, wading birds, gopher tortoises and bats.
Located next to the town of Sewall’s Point, Bird Island is one of seven spoil islands in Martin County created as a result of dredging in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
For more on Critical Wildlife Areas, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation, click on “Terrestrial Programs” then “Critical Wildlife Areas.”